Eight Hours Don't Make a Day

Eight Hours Don't Make a Day ★★★★★

Thirty minutes in, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this. After eight hours (five 90-minute episodes), I wanted more.

German network WDR hired Fassbinder to make a series about working-class characters, and he turned in a small epic of everyday life, which is also a rallying call for workers' rights. The terrific cast (played by a crowd of Fassbinder regulars plus many others) bring humor and sincerity to their roles, which are often archetypes, but all of whom have complicated, humanizing facets to their larger-than-life personalities.

The show's political and social theory is spelled out bluntly by its characters, but with enough domestic drama and good humor that it stops short of feeling polemical. The episodes aired in 1972 and 1973, but the world they depict feels welcoming and maybe, someday, still within our reach.